Author Topic: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.  (Read 14186 times)

Offline Petra Rocks

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Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« on: July 19, 2006, 07:50:17 AM »
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As for bubonic plague, it wasn't just carried by fleas on rats... The flea that carries the plague can be found on a variety of different rodents including, squirrels and chipmunks...

  True, but since squirrels don't usually live with humans, the chances of transmission are minimal.   ;)

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It is believed that more than one kind of plague hit during the middle ages, other forms including an airborne variety, "pneumonic plague", and was human to human transmission(dirty humans,   )...

  That would depend on which plague you are talking about.  ;)  Plague was common in all pre-industrial cultures, and differant ones were caused by differant germs.  But there are a lot of different ideas about what might have caused the Pandemic of 1347, so rats do not stand convicted or exonerated yet.

Offline Baggins

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Plagues
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2006, 02:56:52 PM »
I was speaking of the most famous one, the Black Death. It was a combination of several types of plagues, from several seperate transmission sources. Including Septstimic(sp?), Bubonic, and Pneumonic, and possibly Anthrax among other sources. The people didn't know the difference between the various types, to them it as merely the Plague.

The only reason they know that the 3 main types of plagues were involved was due to the symptoms that were written about. Certain symptoms are specific to certain members of the family of "plague" germs, that being the "Pestis" germs IIRC.

Sepstimic for example was blood poisoning and caused the body to turn purple.

Bubonic caused lymphnodes to swell.

Pneumonic caused the lungs to fill.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2006, 03:07:11 PM by Baggins »
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Offline Petra Rocks

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Plagues
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2006, 04:30:41 PM »
Will reply to Black Death in another thread, as it has little to do with KQ enemies.  :)

Offline Yonkey

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Re: Plagues
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2006, 05:11:08 PM »
No need.  You can now reply here. 8)
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Offline Petra Rocks

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Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2006, 06:31:07 PM »
  No matter where I go, history debates follow.  I ought to get mental help, or a grade or something.  ::)

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I was speaking of the most famous one, the Black Death. It was a combination of several types of plagues, from several seperate transmission sources. Including Septstimic(sp?), Bubonic, and Pneumonic, and possibly Anthrax among other sources. The people didn't know the difference between the various types, to them it as merely the Plague.

The only reason they know that the 3 main types of plagues were involved was due to the symptoms that were written about. Certain symptoms are specific to certain members of the family of "plague" germs, that being the "Pestis" germs IIRC.

Sepstimic for example was blood poisoning and caused the body to turn purple.

Bubonic caused lymphnodes to swell.

Pneumonic caused the lungs to fill.

  Fortunatly, my answer is short. That is indeed the currently the most popular expanation for the Black Death as I understand it.  But while the Middle Ages is not really "my" period, I think this is one thing where ideas change every few years. And as you say, we have only descriptions of symptoms, so a number interperatations can and have been put forth.  Also to what degree rats/fleas were involved is hard to measure accuratly.

  So really I'm saying I don't know much about the subject, and I prefer to tread lightly, as I've been hit with 5 page Primary scource douments and university ideas in a couple of languages once too often to call myself a know-it-all.  ;)

Offline Petra Rocks

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Re: Plagues
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2006, 06:34:56 PM »
Oops.  Sorry, I was typing up a reply where I got called for what I thought was a 5 minute chore, so I just minimized the browser.  When I got back an hour and a half later I finished the thread and posted, without seeing this one.  Sorry, can you merge the threads or something without to much trouble?

Offline Yonkey

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2006, 05:18:26 AM »
I did a project on the Bubonic Plague back in Grade 10 or 11.  I believe it started in Europe and was transmitted to humans from rats.  I can't remember how many deaths resulted, but I remember when the first Flu pandemic happened, it killed quite a lot more. :-\
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Offline Shades2585

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2006, 06:10:52 AM »
     If I recall correctly it started in China and is believed to have spread via fleas on shipboard rats to Europe.
     It also didn’t help that soon after(?) the witch hunts were started and a lot of cats were killed, not to mention the people.
 :(
« Last Edit: July 20, 2006, 06:12:58 AM by Shades2585 »
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Offline awesomeasapossum

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2006, 06:38:43 AM »
Why are people talking about the black death?
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Offline Shades2585

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 07:58:00 AM »
Lol Like many other off topics the original conversation took a left hand turn and just kept on going. Strange but interesting topic.
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Offline Petra Rocks

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2006, 07:59:29 AM »
Why are people talking about the black death?

 Same reason people post threads saying Wabbajack, Wabbajack, or whatever.  ;) It's something to talk about.

 This particular argument started by talking about KQ enemies, went on to cats, talked about how KQ is biased against cats, which somehow lead to talking about rats, so when someone pointed out that rats spread plague somebody else said the plague spread other ways and then I said its impossible to know for sure which cause of the spread how much plague, so we can't how much rats are at fault, and then the thread got moved here because it no longer had anything do with KQ enemies.  Which is probably way more that you wanted to know.  :suffer:

     If I recall correctly it started in China and is believed to have spread via fleas on shipboard rats to Europe.
     It also didn’t help that soon after(?) the witch hunts were started and a lot of cats were killed, not to mention the people.
 :(

  Sorry, but IIRC the witch hunts took place after the black death by a couple of hundred years for the most part. The Black Death lasted from 1347 to sometime in the 1400's in pandemic proportions IIRC. The witch hunts happened 1450-1700 roughly.  It is true that the Black Death provoked pogroms against the Jews though.

 Where the Black Death started exactly is something I have heard endless opinions on, and I will not presume to give judgment.  It could have been anywhere from Russia to China it seems.  I like the sociology and poly sci parts of history, and while I can do as well as the next in arguing the social changes the Black Death brought, when talking about where germs came from and how they spread I'm out of my depth, I was never any good at biology.  :'(  

 If you have an opinion though, certainly feel free to argue it or back it up.


I did a project on the Bubonic Plague back in Grade 10 or 11.  I believe it started in Europe and was transmitted to humans from rats.  I can't remember how many deaths resulted, but I remember when the first Flu pandemic happened, it killed quite a lot more. :-\

  Quite true about the Flu, though since more people were around to kill in the Early 20thc it is perhaps not suprising. And yes, 95% of textbooks and historians would says it was spread mostly by rats.  But since all we really have are some descriptions of the plague, there is always some uncertainty, and thus some argument, if only among professors who need to publish something that sounds important.  ;)  I don't know enough to take sides, so I'll leave well enough alone.  ;)

Offline Shades2585

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2006, 08:44:56 AM »
 Sorry, but IIRC the witch hunts took place after the black death by a couple of hundred years for the most part. The Black Death lasted from 1347 to sometime in the 1400's in pandemic proportions IIRC. The witch hunts happened 1450-1700 roughly.  It is true that the Black Death provoked pogroms against the Jews though.

Really? I guess I’m remembering it wrong. I remember watching a show about its spread and what it could have been due to the known symptoms but I thought they mentioned something about cats being killed because of their “association” with “witches” and how that may have encourage it’s spread. Was there another pandemic around the witch hunts that I’m confusing it with?
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Offline Deloria

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2006, 08:57:24 AM »
  Sorry, but IIRC the witch hunts took place after the black death by a couple of hundred years for the most part. The Black Death lasted from 1347 to sometime in the 1400's in pandemic proportions IIRC. The witch hunts happened 1450-1700 roughly.  It is true that the Black Death provoked pogroms against the Jews though.

There were (albeit occasional) outbreaks throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as well I think. :-\
 
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Offline Petra Rocks

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2006, 09:43:04 AM »

Really? I guess I'm remembering it wrong. I remember watching a show about its spread and what it could have been due to the known symptoms but I thought they mentioned something about cats being killed because of their association with witches and how that may have encourage it's spread. Was there another pandemic around the witch hunts that I'm confusing it with?

  No Europe-wide pandemic that I am aware of, though plenty of "lesser" plagues.  For example the London Plague of 1665 http://www.britainexpress.com/History/plague.htm 

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There were (albeit occasional) outbreaks throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as well I think.

 
 Indeed.  Though epidemics were only to common in pre-modern society.   An area could be literally decimated, like the plague of 1318, the Antonine Plague or the The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-82 ( the last happened mostly among the crowded, dirty soldiers, thus the dates).

Offline Deloria

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2006, 10:31:43 AM »
*wonders if it's time to move on to the so-called "Sweating Sickness"* :P
 
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Offline Shades2585

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2006, 11:08:06 AM »
  No Europe-wide pandemic that I am aware of, though plenty of "lesser" plagues.

I think the show did talk about other pandemics so that's probably where it fit in.

*wonders if it's time to move on to the so-called "Sweating Sickness"* :P
I don't remember that one right now. ???
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Offline Petra Rocks

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2006, 11:20:25 AM »
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I don't remember that one right now.


  Yet another plague.
   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweating_sickness

Offline Rosella

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #17 on: July 20, 2006, 12:04:43 PM »
I think the black death killed about 2/3 of Europe's population, and 3/4 of London's.
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Offline Shades2585

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2006, 01:02:37 PM »
Interesting read. I don't think I had heard of that one.
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Offline Baggins

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Re: Rats, fleas, the Black Death and other happy subjects.
« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2006, 02:16:33 AM »
Ya interesting stuff.

Ya my point was to point out that we don't have enough to know if rats were the only culprits, or if there were other factors spreading the "Black Death".

Like you said we only get a few descriptions of symptoms but not enough to know if they were describing actually plague systems or were symptoms from other kinds of diseases, for example.
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